Robin Hood

 

I’d grown up thinking Robin Hood and his band of merry men lived, fought and died in Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. However here I am at his grave which sits along in woods in Kirklees in West Yorkshire. I’ve since read that Sherwood Forest was once the size of 80,000 football pitches and spanned much of Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire.

 

I’d read that his grave is on private property in the grounds of the Kirkless Hall Estate and it can be visited on the occasional walking tour organized by the local Tourist Information office. I was sure fences or walls could be climbed over so I didn’t bother waiting for the next organised walk and went to look for it one Sunday afternoon.

 

Robin Hood was allegedly the leader of a band of legendary English outlaws in the eleventh or twelfth century probably in Yorkshire. As nobody really knows the truth of his roots his story has turned into a bit of a legend. There was a fugitive called Robert Hod in 1225 and a Robyn Hood who served as a porter to the king's court in 1324. Whoever he was he must have had something special as there were millions of men of his ilk and he rose above them to gain fame and sovereignty over a loyal group. Perhaps it was his fight for a classless society and equality.  Too much times has passed for anyone to know.

 

Before searching for the grave I went to the Three Nuns Inn close to the grave site to see the blue plaque devoted to Robin Hood. The site was formerly a hostelry run by three nuns from the Kirklees Priory following the Dissolution of the Monastries in 1539. From here I drove about half a mile and parked outside Robin Hood Cottage.

 

I crossed the road and, when nobody was looking, scaled a wall and dropped into the dense foliage of a wood. There was no path so I had to press on through fairly thick undergrowth up, up and up a hill and into the wood. I had a plan view where the grave was but soon got a little disorientated. The wood was in the grounds of Kirklees Hall which is now a collection of luxury residences set in 18 acres. They’re annexed from Kirklees Park estate which are private with no public access. This was pretty obvious as I didn’t fall upon a well-used path or see one person anyone.

 

In thick trees I lost my bearings again and had to keeping looking at the plan view. On the plan was a field. If I kept walking in a straight line I should come out on a field. Once there I could probably find Robin’s grave. For a man who couldn’t find his way off a trampoline I did well and really did find myself at the corner of the field. From here I was in the vicinity of the grave and with the help of a sort of path I soon found it.

 

The poor lad lies here alone, not one other soul is buried nearby. The grave had seen much better days and there was a cardboard cup containing a fizzy drink on the wall. Some of the railings had been torn down. The wall surrounds a stone and I stood and stared at it for a while wondering if the legendary yeoman-cum-outlaw was truly under there. It’s clearly marked as belonging to Robin Hood. The grave was last restored in 1850 so I suppose it’s still in good condition bearing in mind it’s been outside for over 160 years.

 

There are a few stories about his death. The main one is that he was being cared for by his lover who was the Prioress of Kirkless Priory but she murdered him by accident. Trying to heal him she bleed him (normal for the era) but let out too much blood and he died. Another story is that she stabbed Robin and as life slipped away he fired an arrow from the window. He told Little John - who was said to be the only Merry Man present at Robin’s death - that he should be buried where the arrow landed. Perhaps there were less trees around at that time as the grave is few hundred metres from the priory. I’m sure a dying man couldn’t have loaded his bow and fired an arrow such a distance.

 

I made my way back down through the wood, again getting a little lost but I’d parked by a road and I used the sound of traffic to guide me back to the car. Again I didn’t see another soul.

 

 

 

I parked outside Robin Hood Cottage, crossed a road, climbed a wall and went up up up into the woods…

 

In the woods on the Kirklees Hall estate…

 

 

Hang on…a bit lost again…

 

Here he is on his own…